BANGKOK — It looked like a shut-and-closed case when a video went viral of a traffic police officer caught red-handed accepting a bribe last week from a truck driver in Nakhon Sawan province.
Although there’s stiff jail time for accepting a bribe, long an endemic practice at all levels of society, the officer has yet to be charged with any crime due to a technicality that would seem to discourage such cases going forward: The bribe-paying driver hasn’t shown up in person to file a complaint.
Why not? As the nation’s top highway cop explained, the driver himself would go to jail, as the law criminalizes both accepting and giving bribes.
“If he admits the bribery took place, he would be punished too,” Maj. Gen. Somchai Kaosamran said in a Wednesday telephone interview.
This conflict of interest in reporting bribery seems another Catch-22 deterring citizens from speaking up or taking action about the corruption permeating the police force.
Police identified the officer in the video as Lt. Cpt. Thawat Umsuparb. The incident took place March 6 on Nakhon Sawan’s Asia Road, according to the person who filmed and uploaded the clip to Facebook.